Several water and river related bills were introduced in Congress last week. H.R. 1975, the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act was introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). This bill would designate certain National Forest System lands in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming as wilderness and would add 37 rivers to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
Rep. Raul Grijalva introduced H.R. 2016, the National Landscape Conservation System Act. The National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) within the Bureau of Land Management was established by administrative fiat during President Clinton's time in the White House. This bill would make the NLCS permanent and codify the management system for 26 million acres of sensitive public lands including many designated as national monuments, national conservation areas, outstanding natural areas, wilderness study areas, and components of the National Trails System, National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, or National Wilderness Preservation System. There will be a hearing on Thursday on the Senate version of the bill, S. 1139, which is sponsored by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM).
Rep. Jay Inslee introduced H.R. 2036, the Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Promotion Act. The bill seeks to increase the use of marine and hydrokinetic energy by providing a tax credit for ocean renewable and other hydrokinetic energy that would harness water power without the use of dams. The bill would set up a research fund through the Department of Energy to study these new technologies, since the possible impacts on rivers and tidal areas are largely unknown. In addition, the bill would require a programmatic Environmental Impact Statement that would evaluate the potential impacts of these new technologies on fish, wildlife and related habitat.
Last week the Department of Energy (DOE) announced the issuance of a draft National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor designation for a large part of New York state that could directly impact the Upper Delaware River, one of America's Most Endangered Rivers of 2007. If the proposal is approved, it would help clear the way for the New York Regional Interconnection (NYRI) power line project that would require clear-cutting all trees and vegetation and regular spraying of herbicides within a 100-foot wide swath of 73.4 miles of the Upper Delaware River. The DOE proposal will undergo a 60-day public comment period before a final determination is made. If the NIETC designation is approved and the New York state government were to deny or delay the permits for the NYRI power line proposal, the federal government would be able to step in and override the state's decision. For more information on the Upper Delaware River's designation as one of America's Most Endangered Rivers of 2007 click here.
On Wednesday the House Natural Resources Committee will hold an open markup session to formally consider several bills including H.R. 986, the Eightmile Wild and Scenic River Act. The bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) and cosponsored by the entire Connecticut delegation, would designate certain segments of the Eightmile River in Connecticut as a component of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) is sponsoring the Senate companion bill S. 553.
Other bills to be marked up in the session include:
H.R. 713, the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area Act. Sponsored by Rep. Louise McIntosh Slaughter (D-NY) H.R. 713 would establish the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area in New York.
H.R. 487, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Equitable Compensation Amendments Act of 2007. Sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D-SD), H.R. 487 would provide compensation to members of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe for damage resulting from the Oahe Dam and Reservoir Project.
H.R. 1114, the Alaska Water Resources Act of 2007. Sponsored by Rep. Don Young (R-AK), H.R. 1114 would authorize a study of the groundwater resources in Alaska.
H.R. 1140, the South Orange County Recycled Water Enhancement Act. Sponsored by Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), H.R. 1140 would authorize a project to construct an advanced water treatment plant facility and recycled water system in the city of San Juan Capistrano, California
Markup: The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a full committee markup on Wednesday, May 2, 2007, at 11:00 AM in 1324 Longworth House Office Building.
On Thursday the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hold two hearings that will address river related legislation. The Subcommittee on Water and Power will hold a legislative hearing on S. 27, the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act, which is sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Since the construction of the Friant Dam in the 1940's, unbalanced water management policy has diverted almost all of California's San Joaquin River for irrigation, causing over 60 miles of the river to run dry, degrading water quality and destroying once vibrant Chinook salmon population. An agreement was reached last year between irrigators and conservationists that would restore flows to the San Joaquin River by 2009. S. 27 seeks to codify that agreement.
The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing in March on Rep. George Radanovich's (R-CA) companion bill, H.R. 24.
Also on Thursday, the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests will hold a legislative hearing on several river related bills. S. 647, the Lewis and Clark Mount Hood Wilderness Act of 2007, sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR). The bill would designate 80 miles of rivers in Mount Hood National Forest in Oregon as components of the National Wild and Scenic River System. Included in the proposed designation are portions of the East Fork Hood River, Middle Fork Hood River, Zig Zag River, Eagle Creek, Fifteen Mile Creek, South Fork Roaring River, South Fork Clackamas River, and Collowash River and Fish Creek. Also to be addressed in the hearing is S. 1139, the National Landscape Conservation System Act, sponsored by Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). Finally, the Subcommittee will hear testimony on H.R. 356, a bill that would remove certain restrictions on the California Mammoth Community Water District's ability to use certain property. The bill was sponsored in the House by Rep. Howard McKeon (R-CA) and passed the full House by voice vote on February 6.
Hearing: The House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Water and Power will hold a hearing at 10:00 AM on Thursday, May 3 in 366 Dirksen Senate Office Building.
Hearing: The House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests will hold a legislative hearing at 2:30 PM on Thursday, May 3 in 366 Dirksen Senate Office Building.
Visit American Rivers